All Woman

Tamoy Barnett Whipping up batches of success

By NADINE WILSON All Woman writer

Monday, December 16, 2013    

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RAPED at 13, a teenage single mother by 16, and living through two redundancy exercises, Tamoy Barnett had to definitely traverse some rocky roads during her lifetime.

But one of things that always brought her comfort during her troubled years was whipping up a batch of cupcakes and seeing the joy on the faces of those who consumed her creations.

What had been her therapy for years has now become her livelihood, as the 28-year-old has started her own catering service, which allows her to make money from something she enjoys. Although she started her business -- Caribbean Style Catering and Décor -- in 2010, the young caterer had proven herself to be quite an entrepreneur in the making from her high school years, at which time she had both students and staff literally eating out of her hands.

"I was carrying my six baking tins and we had pies, cakes, cupcakes, puddings and from the teachers to the students bought it off. I would go home, bake again and carry back the next day, so that's how I made my pocket money and that's how I opened my first account and started my savings," she said.

Through her at-home catering business, Barnett is now able to serve a wider clientele which includes the staff of several corporate businesses to whom she provides lunches on a daily basis.

"By doing the cakes, I got into the whole finger foods and the cooking and I love to cook Italian dishes, that's my favourite," she beamed.

"I watch Food Network and every time I see them create a dish, I'm like wow, this look interesting and I just go in my kitchen and whatever I can find, I create my own style from it. I don't always do the same thing, I put my own unique twist on it to make it mine and that's how I got into the whole cooking thing and I started to do lunch deliveries," she explained.

Barnett said her mother taught her the basics of cooking, and being the only daughter and the eldest of three children meant she really had to learn to help herself in the kitchen from early. An accountant by profession, she opted to go into catering after having her second child, so she could spend more time with her daughters. It's one of the best decisions she believes she has ever made and she is currently looking forward to moving her business to a more practical space in St Catherine come next year.

Variety they say is the spice of life, and this coupled with her customer service skills garnered through her brief experience as a call centre agent, has served Barnett's business well. Given the reviews she has got, she has also found herself branching into other areas such as wedding planning and fashion designing.

"I always make sure that the food is on time, make sure the quality is up to par, and always give them something new. I will give complimentary juices and another time I will give cake," she said.

Running her own catering company, taking care of two daughters, and undertaking wedding decor to meet the needs of her varied clientele, is definitely not an easy task. Last week for example saw Barnett catering for her daughters' class parties at no cost to their schools, while still trying to fill 100 orders for her signature Christmas cake, but the mother said she sometimes gets her daughters involved and this has proven to be a bonding experience for them.

"There are days when I am really, really exhausted, but I know what I want, so I just have to work hard for it," she said.

"I have to have a list of things that I go by, so from waking up right back to going to bed, I have to do my check-off," she explained.

And as if she didn't already have enough on her plate, Barnett is also an executive member of Care of Hope Foundation, which is a St Catherine-based charity that was started this year. She is also a Kiwanis Club member.

"I always wanted to start my own charity organisation, but it is something that takes a lot of time and involves a lot begging to fund it and so on," she noted.

As a member of Care of Hope, Barnett provides food for the street people catered to by the foundation on a regular basis. She, however, doesn't mind having to cook to feed the homeless and the needy she said, because this is basically something that is already up her alley.

Barnett said that her mornings usually begin at 4 o'clock because she has to get breakfast ready and prepare her daughters for school. She starts cooking for her lunch time crowd after returning home from doing her school drop offs. The mother admits that there are nights when she doesn't get much sleep, especially now that she is getting a lot of demand to cater to birthday parties, conferences and in more recent times, parties, but you would be hard-pressed to hear any complaints from her, she is simply having too much fun doing what she does best.

"I wouldn't say I had a rough life, but I have been through a lot and everything that I have been through is what make me the person that I am today," she said.

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